At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of Malshanger at Oakley, or Church Oakley, was in the possession of Walter, son of Other, who was the Governor of Windsor Castle and ancestor of the baronial house of Windsor.
The last mention of the Windsor overlordship occurs in 1501-2, and in 1504 the land was sold to William of Warham, the most illustrious member of the Warham family who had had connections with the property since the fifteenth century. He filled high offices of state in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, including Bishop of London, Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury. It was he who crowned Henry VIII and his first wife, Catharine of Aragon, in Westminster Abbey, and was later an opponent of their divorce. He was also a close friend of Erasmus. In succeeding centuries the manor changed ownership several times, the more notable lords of the manor being the Kingsmill and Brickenden families.
The early name for Oakley was Church Oakley and the twelfth century Church of St Leonard had a tower built by Archbishop Warham early in the sixteenth century. The church was repaired and rebuilt in 1869 by TH Wyatt at a cost of £5,000. Also last century a Harvest Home celebration was held for all the employees on Malshanger Estate, wherein they were all given a buttonhole of oak, barley, wheat and rye tied with a red ribbon. A thanksgiving service at the church was followed by a substantial meal in the Refectory Barn.
Oakley was reputedly troubled by a ghost which appeared to travellers in Shearsdown Lane.